Title: Brotherly Duties
Summary: Homesickness can take even the most unlikely victims. (A sweet little Weasley brothers one-shot.)
Disclaimer: The characters and situations of Harry Potter do not belong to me. I make no money from this story. Please don't sue.
George Weasley awoke with a start. As fading images of his nightmare mixed with reality, he sat up and glanced about frantically trying to gain his bearings. In his slight panic, he couldn't identify his surroundings. He wasn't in his room; he knew that much.
The bed was surrounded by curtains. His breath came in shallow bursts as he fought the sheet to get to the drapery, then floundered about as he searched for a slit in the imprisoning fabric. He finally found it and went tumbling out to the hard floor below.
He landed with a thump and an "oof." At this point, as he viewed the dorm room, he remembered that he was at Hogwarts.
Across the room, a dark-skinned boy whose name he hadn't yet learned sat up abruptly, glancing wildly about. "Whosit? What?"
In the moonlight, George looked over at him and noted that he had left his curtains open. He hoped it was too dark for the boy to see him, however.
No such luck. After a moment, his eyes rested on George. "Whatcha' doin' down there?" he asked quietly.
George grimaced. "Got tangled in the curtains. Sorry," he whispered.
The boy stared at him for a moment, then shrugged and lay back down.
In the bed beside George's, an identical red head was visible through partially open curtains. In response to the noise Fred merely snorted once in his sleep before turning over, completely oblivious to his twin's distress.
As his heart rate slowed, George climbed painfully to his feet and collapsed back onto the bed. He purposefully pushed the curtains open further before lying down again.
After a few minutes of staring at the ceiling, he remembered why he had closed them in the first place. It wasn't as if he was used to being alone while he slept—quite the opposite. He was used to Fred being only feet away, snoring lightly or at the very least breathing steadily. What he wasn't used to was other people being in the room, as well.
No one else was as close as Fred. He didn't think he wanted other people watching him sleep. He had told himself that closing the curtains would be like having his very own room for the first time.
It sort of was. He didn't like it.
He couldn't even remember his nightmare now, but the fear remained. He tried to close his eyes; tried to go back to sleep, but he couldn't. He was overwhelmed with a feeling of loneliness and anxiety. Abruptly, he found himself fighting the quick breaths again, this time fighting tears instead of panic. But he would not let himself cry.
He told himself that he was not homesick. How could he be when half his home was here? Two of his big brothers and Fred—well, Fred was more than half all by himself. He and Fred had been very excited to come to school—away from their parents' watchful eyes for the first time.
But, quite abruptly, he found he was missing things he had thought himself glad to be rid of. He missed his Mum and all her smothering hugs. He missed Ron following them around and bugging them, getting them into trouble when they played their tricks on him. He missed Ginny and all the annoying assumptions that she was innocent, just because she was the baby and the girl.
After a few minutes he gave up on sleeping and sat up again. He had to do something; he needed someone or he was just going to start sobbing into his pillow.
He could just climb into bed with Fred. But they were ten now, not kids anymore. And there were other boys in the room who would think him a baby for needing to sleep with his brother.
So he left his bed, a bit more gracefully this time, and made for the door.
Funny, Gryffindor tower hadn't looked so imposing in the daylight. He was pretty sure the 6th year dorm was up, so he began climbing the stairs.
He adored Charlie. Not that this was anything he would ever let him know, of course. But Charlie was the best—he was good at Quidditch, he was funny, and he was a good sport about jokes. And while Charlie might give him a hard time about this when he got older, right now he would take care of him.
He crept past one door, stood looking at it doubtfully for a moment, and then kept climbing. While he was grateful for the moonlight creeping in through the small windows, it served to cast shadows and unnerve him all the more.
He had just reached another door when he suddenly heard a sound below him. He jumped, then realized that it was footsteps, and they were coming towards him.
He wondered if he was about to get into trouble. Then he had another thought, and wished he had his wand. Because really, who knew what lurked in the halls of Hogwarts at night? Perhaps something that punished first years for being out of bed.
His heart pounded as he frantically looked about before pressing himself into the corner and hoping he would be overlooked by whomever, or whatever, it was.
But then it stepped into the moonlight, and it looked human. Too young to be faculty, too. The figure noticed him and came closer, squinting at him.
"Hey, you're a first year. What are you doing at my dorm?"
"Erm..." George managed unhelpfully. It was an older boy with short, dark hair and a burly sort of build. He looked vaguely familiar, and George thought he might have been introduced by one of his brothers. Wood, that was it. Charlie talked about him as a very promising Quidditch player.
Oliver was studying him. "Which one are you?" the older boy asked curiously.
Oh yeah, this boy knew he was a Weasley. He wondered briefly how many times he'd be hearing that in the next few days. "George."
"And why are you wandering the tower at midnight, George?"
He shifted uncomfortably. "I was trying to find my brother's dorm," he mumbled, embarrassed.
But Oliver merely nodded, seeming to understand. "I'll get him, all right? Wait right here." Then he softly opened the door behind him and disappeared inside.
Had he been calmer and more rational, George probably would have wondered why Oliver, who was only a 3rd year, would be rooming with Charlie. But he wasn't certain of Wood's year, and at that point he didn't really care to ponder it. He glanced around nervously, hoping no one else happened upon him. He wondered if this had been a mistake, and entertained the idea of running back to his own bed.
But he was still unnerved. He wanted Charlie.
What he got, when the door finally opened again and someone shuffled out, was a rumpled and slightly peeved Percy.
"George? Do you know what time it is? So help me, if this is some sort of prank, on your first week no less, I'll owl Mum first thing in the morning…" he trailed off, eyes narrowing and then softening as he studied his little brother more closely. "George?"
George felt his traitorous lower lip trembling and quickly bit down on it. He immediately tasted blood and winced. "Sorry," he mumbled. "I didn't mean for him to wake you. I'll just go back to my dorm."
And he turned, and tried to make a break for it. While Charlie might tease him later, Percy was unlikely to put up with him at all.
And thus he was surprised when a hand reached out and grasped his upper arm. "No…no. Wait." George turned back warily as Percy rubbed at his eyes beneath his glasses, trying to wake up. "It's all right. Let's go down to the Common Room."
George shrugged a bit uncertainly, but followed his brother down the winding staircase and over to the couch. He watched as Percy used his wand and a muttered some slight incantation to re-light the fire before they settled onto the soft couch cushions.
Percy sat a bit stiffly, fully awake now and clearly uncomfortable. He cleared his throat and glanced around the room before his gaze finally landed on George.
Trying to break the awkwardness, George blurted, "Hey, why do you suppose Oliver was out at midnight?"
Percy snorted, a slightly fond smile gracing his face as he relaxed slightly. "Knowing him, he was probably off with his broom or in an empty classroom using the chalkboard to plot plays. He's a bit of a control freak on the field."
George raised an eyebrow. Percy spoke as if they knew each other well. Somehow, he'd never really pictured uptight Percy with friends. Especially friends who would sneak out of the tower late at night.
The uncomfortable silence descended again, and Percy took to staring at the fire before he cleared his throat and finally said, "So…are you all right?"
"Sure," was his automatic response, but it just earned him a doubtful glance, and he realized that there was no point in having sought out comfort if he wasn't willing to ask for it. "I had a nightmare," he confessed in a mumble.
Percy nodded slightly, looking back to the fire. "It's all right for you to be homesick."
George glanced at him sharply, a little surprised at such attunement to his emotions. "I didn't say I was homesick," he returned lamely, not knowing what else to say.
Percy looked at him again, his lips quirking into a crooked, soft smile. "Well if you were, it would be all right. Normal, even."
George snorted. "Normal. I don't think you've ever accused me of that before."
That earned him a slight laugh. "Probably not." But then the perpetually serious Percy appeared again as he continued solemnly, "I'm sorry…I really wasn't worried about you. I thought you and Fred would be fine. You've never much seemed to need anyone else."
George didn't quite see what he was apologizing for; it wasn't as if he was Percy's responsibility. He shrugged and said lamely, "Fred's asleep."
Percy nodded, and the slight, soft smile was back. "What I'm trying to say is that I'm sure you weren't expecting it either. I know you were really looking forward to school. So was I, my first time. I think that actually makes the homesickness worse."
George blew past his brother's confession for the moment and furrowed his brow. "Why?"
Percy shrugged slightly. "Because you were so excited to leave that you didn't really say goodbye; at least not for yourself. Then it hits you suddenly and you miss home all the much more."
"I even miss Mum's yelling!" George finally burst out, sounding much more distressed than he had meant to.
Percy couldn't seem to help smirking at that, but he hid it quickly enough. "It's all right," he repeated soothingly.
"How would you know? Mum never yelled at you!"
"Because I actually missed you and Fred and all your pranks," Percy countered.
At that, George had to pause and stare at him for a moment. "Really?"
"So what did you do about it?"
"Nothing, really. I wrote home a lot. But mostly, you just have to give it time."
George frowned. He would have preferred a spell or charm that would have made him feel better right then.
Percy caught his look. "It'll get better. You're going to love it here; you'll get caught up in everything and make friends, and that lost feeling will just kind of go away."
George nodded, but still looked at him a bit doubtfully.
Percy tilted his head slightly. "I promise," he offered. "And you've got Charlie, Fred, and me whenever you need us." Then he reached out, let his hand hover for a moment, then patted George awkwardly on the head.
George couldn't help a slight smirk. Percy was just so terribly proper and out of his depth when it came to affection. He'd have to help him out. He pushed himself off the cushions and into his big brother, prompting an "oof" from both of them. He felt Percy stiffen slightly, but he simply turned his head to rest comfortably against his brother's shoulder. "Thanks, Perce," he murmured as he wrapped his arms around the older boy's waist. He had to admit; he already felt better.
"Oh…well…" Percy stuttered for a moment, then relaxed slightly and patted his back a couple of times.
After a bit George released his hold and moved back. Percy pushed his glasses up on his nose, trying to regain his equilibrium. "Well…Charlie did the same for me, so I guess its kind of tradition."
George raised an eyebrow at that. He really couldn't see Percy seeking Charlie out.
As if hearing his thoughts Percy added, "He found me down here, curled up by the fire. Somehow, he just knew."
"I knew because two years before that, I was down here with Bill."
They both jumped at the sudden intrusion of their brother's voice. Charlie came closer, grinning softly at them.
"How long have you been there?" Percy questioned accusatorily.
"Long enough," Charlie responded vaguely, reaching to muss Percy's hair in that way that annoyed him so and looking decidedly proud.
Percy pulled free and glared at him as Charlie reached to squeeze George's shoulder.
"So it runs in the family, huh?" George asked, since Charlie was apparently up to check on them as well.
"It's not just us. Most of the kids in this tower right now, whatever their year, are feeling at least a little homesick," Charlie responded. "We're just lucky, that's all. We each had someone to go to."
"What do you suppose Bill did? He was here for two years by himself," Percy mused.
Charlie shrugged. "Maybe he was just stronger. He has been taking care of the six of us all our lives."
"Fred seems to be all right, too," George put in, and not without a hint of bitterness.
"You think so?" Percy asked.
George and Charlie both turned to follow his gaze. Fred was just reaching the bottom of the staircase, wide eyes locked on the three of them. His face was horribly pale beneath his freckles, and George thought that he hadn't seen his twin look so white since their shrinking potion had exploded and covered Ron is a reddish substance suspiciously like blood.
Charlie held out an arm as he made a beeline for them. "You okay, squirt?"
Fred tucked himself into their brother quickly, latching an arm around his waist and clinging in a decidedly un-grown-up way. He glared at George. "You were gone! I woke up, and you'd just disappeared!"
George glared right back. "You were asleep! I made enough to noise to wake a fellow clear across the dorm, and you just rolled over!"
They were usually better attuned to each other, and perhaps that was why Fred had woken at all. But he hadn't woken when George had needed him, and though things had actually turned out better then he could have expected, he decided that he had the right to act affronted about it.
Apparently Fred was very out of sorts, for he had no comeback. He simply crossed his arms to hug himself protectively, lower lip protruding ever so slightly. Charlie hugged him tighter in response, prompting George to roll his eyes.
Percy cleared his throat. "Well, we had better get back to bed. We don't want to be overtired in our classes tomorrow."
"Especially Binns'. Once he starts talking, if you're the slightest bit tired you'll be asleep in two seconds flat," Charlie confided. Then he tilted his head slightly, considering, and added, "Not that you'd miss that much. I've gotten some of my best sleep in that room."
George and Fred smiled; Percy shot Charlie a frustrated frown. "You're supposed to provide a good example," he hissed at the eldest in a stage whisper.
"Why?" Charlie released Fred and reached for Percy again, stooping to trap him in a hug from behind. "Doesn't seem to have had much effect on you."
Percy squirmed for a moment, then gave up with a put-upon sigh and let Charlie squeeze him. Percy wasn't really the type to enjoy the frequent brotherly wrestling matches that took place in the Weasley clan, but Charlie didn't like to give him much choice in the matter.
Meanwhile, Fred came around and plopped down next to George. George turned to meet his eyes, studied him for a moment, then gave him a slight smile. Fred returned it, and that was all that was needed in the form of an apology between twins.
George turned back to watch his brothers, and Fred leaned forward to rest his arm companionably on George's shoulder. Percy was trying in vain to keep his glasses straight on his nose. Shortly he took to squirming again and trying unsuccessfully to contain a smile as Charlie teased him with pokes and tickles. "Do we want to be like either of them?" Fred asked.
"Hmm." George surveyed them. "Top Quidditch player and Prefect, top student…no, I think not. And, well…look at them. Why would we want any of that?"
That garnered the attention of both his brothers. Charlie released Percy and started towards them.
In perfect unison they both jumped up and took a few quick steps out of reach. "I suppose we'll have to find our own roles to play," George said mournfully to his twin.
"Hey, do you suppose there's some sort of award for the most detentions?" Fred asked thoughtfully as they continued to move backwards. Unfortunately, their movements were only taking them towards the girls' staircase. Charlie was between them and the boys,' looking every bit the menacing big brother.
George screwed his face up doubtfully, not showing concern. "No…but maybe for getting away with the most pranks," he suggested brightly.
"I told you they were going to be trouble," Percy interjected as he came up beside Charlie.
Charlie studied them, and nodded in agreement. "Yes, we may have to do something about that. Get them!"
George and Fred split up with well-practiced ease, ensuring that Charlie's leap to the spot where they had been standing didn't get him so much as a handful of pajama top. Charlie hesitated, glancing left and then right as he tried to decide which one to go for. Percy, who hadn't moved at all at Charlie's command, surveyed all three of them and then declared to Charlie, "Right, well…you're the Prefect, that makes them your responsibility. I'm going to bed." He turned, and started for the stairs.
George exchanged a look with Charlie, and saw Fred grinning beyond him. In silent agreement, all three of them changed targets.
A moment later, Percy squawked indignantly as he was hit from three sides and ended up on the bottom of the heap.
The game was on. And despite Percy's best intentions, they didn't get back into their beds until nearly five a.m. By that point, George had all but forgotten the feeling that had sent him seeking his brother in the first place.
The next day in History of Magic, Fred fell asleep shortly after Professor Binns introduced himself. George held out a few minutes longer before his head dropped to Fred's shoulder.
Two years later, to the night, George Weasley didn't sleep. He waited until just after midnight before heading down to the Gryffindor common room.
And sure enough, there was a red head barely visible on the couch by the fire.
Not wanting to startle him, he was purposefully noisy as he descended the last stairs and headed towards the couch. Ron turned to look back at him, eyes brimming with the anxiety that George remembered all too well.
He smiled gently at his little brother, then sat down to go about his duty.
Author's Note: Sappy, I know. I'm a warm fuzzy junkie.
I really hope to finish my WIP "All the King's Men," or at the very least start working on it again. This will hopefully jump start all the Weasley interactions I intend to write.
Feedback is welcome. Thanks for reading!